Friday, July 27, 2012

San Francisco 

Thank goodness for summer visitors – I don’t think I would see my own area if I didn’t have occasional guests. My cousin (second cousin once removed) came from the Topeka/Kansas City area with his friend.  So here is my itinerary for a good two-day exploration

Sailboat under the GG Bridge

1.     My guests arrived late morning – Oakland airport – drove across the Oakland Bay bridge and through the financial district – Embarcadero – up the steep hills of Hyde Street and down Lombard St. (the curvy part)- Left on Leavenworth to Geary – then turned left to the inner Richmond district.

The items made with rice are Sushi, the raw fish is sashimi
2.     Since they had expressed an interest in good San Francisco sushi, I checked with my resources and selected Ichiraku on Geary St.  We were the only Haole customers (Caucasian) – which is generally a good sign… the Sushi was fresh, well prepared and presented.  The ambiance of the restaurant itself is simple; the staff was very pleasant.

Parking is always available under the bridge - then walk the path to the bridge

On the GG Bridge
3.     After lunch we walked out to the first tower of the Golden gate bridge – a great vantage point for seeing the layout of the area – then we drove out to the Pacific Headlands  - a nature reserve on the north side of the bridge – where the surf was great and surfers were doing their stuff close to shore.
On Haight St.
4.     Back across the bridge to a small brew pub near the corner of Haight and Ashbury …a good chance for a late afternoon beer and an exploration of the neighborhood.  I had not been in the Haight for quite some time and was impressed to see the life and atmosphere of the area.  Great fun!  I will return!
5.     Home to Fremont – and to further their multicultural education we took them for an evening meal at our favorite Afghani restaurant – Salang Pass.
Up and off late the next morning,

On the Ferry en route to Sausalito - Coit tower
1.     We took BART (our Bay Area subway/elevated train) under the bay to Embarcadero station - 
2.     Walking to the Ferry Building we caught the boat to Sausalito.  We left the ferry and explored the town and choose a great place for lunch (Scoma’s). More exploration, a little shopping – then we caught the return ferry.
Approaching Sausalito
3.     Explored the shops in the Ferry building – wonderful products  but a bit pricey – great Gelato!

Heart of Chinatown

4.     Walked up Washington St. past the Ma Jong players in Portsmouth Square, and captured a bit of the flavor of Chinatown – turned left onto Waverly St.  (A narrow side street)  about half way up the block, right side. Is a doorway indicating a temple – 

Side street in ChinaTown

Burning incense

      We climbed 3 floors and entered one of the oldest temples in Chinatown with a variety of deities represented, incense smoke rose in clouds, offerings of fruit were placed before some of the figures.  By offering a little money we were permitted to take photos.

Figure in temple
Figure in Temple

5.     We continued up Grant, then turned left one block up to Kearney (if Grant is for the tourists, Kearney if the street where the Chinese people do their shipping) We entered one dry fish/herb store what was amazing for its every type of dried fish, fish mows, shark fins, as well as great piles of Ginseng and other healing herbs.

Shark fins - ready for sale
6.     Continuing N on Kearney we entered the North Beach Italian neighborhood – and just managed to get inside the church of Peter and Paul before closing time.  It is grand!

Church of Peter and Paul - North Beach
7.     Then walking on up Kearney, and back to Grant to make our way to Coit tower…this is a bit steep with a gazillion steps to climb – but the view makes it worthwhile.  Inside we viewed the fabulous WPA murals from the 1930’s showing the working people of California… It’s a wonderful portrayal of everyday life in another era.

Mural detail - Coit tower

8.     By now the fatigue was beginning to show – so we opted for the easy way down – If you walk to the right after leaving Coit tower you will find a staircase that goes down to the Embarcadero – the piers… It’s quick and easy and passes through beautiful gardens and elegant homes.
Mural - Coit tower
9.     Once on Embarcadero it’s a quick walk to the right back to the Ferry Building and the entrance into BART.  On the way we passed a grand interactive water sculpture designed to the climbed, walked through, with a series of islands to jump between… all with vast amounts of water falling safely around you… It is a great place to bring out my inner child.

10.  Back home my dear wife had a wonderful meal waiting for us, and cold beers all around… Aside from a few sore feet it was a grand day.

Mural detail - Coit tower
When I show guests around in the summertime my number one goal is to avoid the standard tourist haunts that are crawling with masses of humanity… Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 are the worst and are to be avoided at all costs…

I hope my guests had as much fun as I did!

Recommended link of the week:
This blog was started by an 11 year old girl in N. England to show a photograph of her daily school lunch and to comment.  During the summer ( when no school ) she is inviting guests from around the world to share their lunches... The site has become very popular - and if you look you will see why... The girl also supports a food project in Africa.  Daily updates...